I hesitate before sharing my opinions these days. The problem is that I am optimistic in a time of great stress. My optimism might seem uncaring to those who are suffering. Here is what I want to say. The promised land lies just ahead.
For nearly two years we’ve suffered the pain of sequestration, isolation, and dislocation. We have been fearful, frustrated, and heartbroken. Yet, I remain hopeful. Not longing for how it was before, but looking forward to a promised land.
Consider how we endured the Covid Pandemic. We benefitted from the greatest innovations and accomplishments of our time. The scientific and technological advances of modern times kept most of us safe from severe illness or financial distress. Vaccinations were created in months and hundreds of millions are now protected. The internet permitted commerce to continue and work at home to be productive. Entertainment choices expanded with new streaming services. Even the government was successful in assisting millions of Americans with financial relief checks, small business loans, rent moratoriums, and student loan payment abatements. The world was challenged by Covid-19 and its variants, yet people in developed countries had much to celebrate.
In Moses’ final speech in Torah, he recounts the fear, frustration, and heartbreak of the 40-year journey through Sinai. Even as he chastises the people for their foibles and infidelities, he sets before them the miracles of their times. In the presence of enemies, the Jewish approach is to notice the banquet of life.
Rabbi Ed Feinstein taught this lesson in the context of the fast day, the ninth of Av (Tisha B’av, July 17 -18, 2021). Just as Jews observed a day of sadness for the destruction of the Temples, both first and second, the more important day might be the tenth of Av. The day after destruction we get up from the ashes and reimagine our world. On the tenth of Av we begin a process of renewal demonstrating resilience, ingenuity, and faith.
Let’s not merely hit the restart button as we emerge from our covid cocoons. With your hopefulness for kindness, safety, and justice, let’s work to build a reimagined world.
Natalie Merchant sang the anthem for this moment:
“These are the days you might fill with laughter until you break
These days you might feel a shaft of light
Make its way across your face
And when you do you’ll know how it was meant to be”
Rabbi Evan Krame